Twisted Metal – Review
Developer: Eat Sleep Play
Publisher: Sony Entertainment
Release Date: March 8, 2012
The Short: Extremely fun archaic car combat, average campaign, engrossing and chaotic online/offline multiplayer.
Twisted metal is the longest running franchise on PlayStation. The last Twisted Metal was released 15 years ago and gaming has changed a lot since then, the market is now flooded by first-person military shooters, car combat games are a rarity. Fortunately, Twisted Metal isn’t just a game for nostalgic fans, but can also hold its own ground as being a great game.
Calypso runs a game called twisted metal, in which the sick and the demented compete in a match to the death. Calypso will grant the winner one wish. Twisted Metal’s has three campaigns following three characters: Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm and Doll Face. Each are demented psychopaths in their own way and each want/need that one wish from Calypso. Each campaign shows the perspective of each character as they enter the contest. It’s interesting watching how these characters became so demented, but with that said the three story’s don’t have much depth. The real treat to each story is when their wishes are granted, cause nothing is as it ever seems with Calypso. The story is told through live-action cut scenes, which aren’t bad, but they could’ve easily have done with the in-game engine as well. The cut-scenes are well executed but some of the voice-acting is just bland, the characters don’t sound like they have any emotion sometimes. While the cut-scenes are okay, the pre-cut-scene before each match showing off the arena makes the place seem very bland and desolate compared to when you’re actually in the arena causing chaos and carnage.
There are 16 different vehicles, including a helicopter, a decimating semi-truck, a transforming ice-cream truck and many more. Each vehicle is differentiated by speed, armour and how damaging its special weapon is. Each vehicle has 2 different special weapons which offer a great range of different and creative ways to kill your enemy. Each vehicle is balanced out, for example, if it has weak armour its special weapon is likely going to do a lot of damage, if it has a lot of armour the vehicle will be slow and harder to drive. Along with every vehicle there are also freezing blasts, shields and landmines you can use, but using each of these depletes a meter, and depending on which car you are using the meter will deplete faster or slower with each use. There are also different sidearms you can use, but these don’t have much of an effect to your overall playstyle.
It’s important to note that the cars in twisted metal in no way have realistic handling like actual car racing games and feel more like they glide along the ground, but this is fine as the controls are perfectly suited to a game like this. The control scheme is tricky, but players who give it some time and master it will find it perfect. The key to playing the game is choosing which vehicle suits you best and mastering its specialties and differences to each other vehicle. Do you like getting around with speed and ease? Or do you prefer having lots of armour or damaging weapons?
Each campaign involves five deathmatches and one boss battle. The car combat has a lovely archaic feeling to it, you’ll be driving around the map finding various pick-ups and health shooting other opponents. But each match has a unique spin on them, like having to stay in in a certain area that changes every 40 seconds, or having a juggernaut vehicle spawn more vehicles every couple of minutes until you take it out. But even though there are different spins on each deathmatch it still doesn’t feel like there is whole lot of variety in these matches. The best thing about the campaign are the memorable end boss battles. Twisted Metal isn’t afraid to give you a real challenge and it can be downright frustrating as it feels like every other opponent is just out to get you sometimes. Overall the campaign just feels like a dry-run for the multiplayer, a place where you can test out each vehicle and get accustomed to the controls.
The multiplayer is where it’s at and where you will have the most fun. There are 8 maps, which are the same maps you will play in the campaign, but they can be split up into 30 different sub-maps depending on how many people are. All of the maps are huge in scope and look great when everyone is playing on them with missiles and other explosives flying around. They are all well designed (except for maybe L.A Skyline where you die half the time by just falling off the buildings) and have a lot of verticality and distinct sections to each map. All the maps have destructible parts to them which adds to the chaos and thrill, but it’s sometimes difficult to tell which parts are destructible or not and can lead to slamming into a wall which you thought was destructible.
There are the typical modes like deathmatch, last-man-standing and team-deathmatch, but there are also more objective based modes like Nuke. Nuke is basically capture-the-flag, but instead of a flag you have to capture the opposing teams’ leader, drag him behind your car, sacrifice him to the nuke launcher, and hit the enemy’s statue with the nuke. But no matter what mode you play you’ll be having a lot of fun. The games core gameplay is just too much fun. At a glance everything may seem like mindless chaos, but there’s a lot of skill and strategy behind the game if you take the time to find out each vehicles strengths and weaknesses along with all the weapons as well. There’s a lot of depth. Though with all this chaos sometimes the lock-on system can be a bit fidgety and may not lock-on to the player you want, which can be a little annoying in the heat of a battle but certainly not a game breaker. And while every vehicle has its strengths and weaknesses, the weaker vehicles seem to drop a little too quick compared to the other cars and their speed and strong special attacks don’t seem enough to compensate for the poor armour. But even you choose not to learn anything about the vehicles you’ll still be able to have a lot of mindless fun.
There were complaints about connection issues a few weeks back when the game launched in the U.S, fortunately finding and joining games have been greatly improved, but there are still a few minor issues. But once you have found a game everything runs incredibly smoothly with little lag or slowdown. Finding a multiplayer game is simple, you can either quickly find a match, which will dump you into any random match. Or you can search through a list of a bunch of games that people are hosting, which will make sure the games multiplayer survives for as long as possible (matchmaking isn’t always reliable several months down the line after a games launch).
Competing and levelling up in ranked matches unlocks special rewards, such as new cars, sidearms, and even skin packs to customize your car- your car is surprisingly customisable. Everyone also has a skill rank and each team is balanced out based on each individual’s skill level, which is very good, because you won’t be going up against people leagues better than you. There is also an option to create a clan, which is also good, I don’t know whether they will host clan matches though.
My only complaint about the online multiplayer is if you quick-join a ranked match in progress it won’t let you join, you will have to sit in the lobby until the game is over, which can take forever and lead to having to exit and re-join over and over again. This can happen to you frequently, or you can join many games and not have problem, anyway it’s extremely frustrating when it happens to you over and over again. Fortunately, you can join suggested games, which all have games that are in the pre-game lobby. Anyway, I’m not sure why the developers would do this, but maybe they can change this with a patch.
There is also four-player split-screen, which is a great addition because so many games lack this these days. On the week-end I invited three of my friends over, we all played Twisted Metal, and it was a blast! I haven’t had that much fun playing split-screen with a game since ratchet and clank or Crash Team Racing. Trust me, playing this game with a bunch of friends on the couch is a lot of fun.
While Twisted Metal does have a few problems it is still a great buy for its existing fans, but also a worthy enough buy for new-comers. The campaigns are enjoyable enough and challenging with highlights like its memorable boss battles and its twist endings. It boasts incredible chaotic online and offline multiplayer, that has something that a lot of other games lack, just down right pure fun. If you liked the old Twisted Metals, there’s no doubt you’re going to like this, but even if you’ve never played Twisted Metal, I can guarantee you are going to have a fun time with this game, whether its playing online, or on the couch with a bunch of your mates.